While speaking with the press on Sunday before the San Antonio Spurs took on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Coach Gregg Popovich addressed the comments made by Fox News reporter Laura Ingraham. She called LeBron James and Kevin Durant “unintelligible” and said that they should “shut up and dribble” after their interview on Uninterrupted aired. Ingraham’s comments were heavily aimed at James because he criticized Donald Trump for not giving “a f*ck about the people.” Popovich took Ingraham to task for her remarks.
According to Greg Swartz of the Bleacher Report, Popovich called Ingraham’s comments an “unbelievable show of arrogance.” She tried to dictate to James what, when, where, and how he should speak his mind. The Spurs coach called her behavior “ludicrous.”
“But to not have a feel for who this guy is…think about when he came into the public view. How young was he?” Popovich said. “And to this day he hasn’t missed a step. He hasn’t fallen off the ledge. He’s been a brilliant example for millions of kids, especially of kids of lesser opportunity who haven’t had the same advantages of others.”
Popovich went on to explain the shining example James has set for young people. He hailed the NBA champion as an exemplary performer in the workplace who uses his platform to speak his truth. James exercises his First Amendment rights, which are open to every citizen regardless of profession. The outspoken coach even highlighted James’ philanthropy and compared his impact to that of the blockbuster movie Black Panther.
“How cool is that for kids to see that and have that superhero? Well, now, LeBron has been that for a long time,” Popovich continued. “And for somebody to be totally numb to that and attack him in such a childish way, really speaks more volumes about that individual than it does LeBron. He’s very, very special. We should all be very proud that we have somebody like that who’s willing to speak about a variety of topics, and you’ve listened to them all.”
LeBron responded to Ingraham’s monologue during All-Star Weekend and said that he had no intention of being silent to appease her. During a press conference, he talked about the importance of his platform and the behaviors that public figures must model. There are important issues in the world that must be addressed and James is committed to talking about them.
“We will definitely not shut up and dribble,” James said. “I will definitely not do that. I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to so many kids that feel that they don’t have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”
Kevin Durant weighed-in on Ingraham’s commentary and told USA Today that he deemed it racist. Durant said he felt sorry for the talking head because she was missing an opportunity to get to know the players and learn about their journeys. Ingraham might even grow to like them.
Ingraham has since responded to the backlash by claiming that she was not being racist at all. The “shut up and dribble” remark, she said, was a nod to her 2003 New York Times bestseller, Shut Up & Sing. The host of The Ingraham Angle said that she has used variations of that title when discussing all kinds of public figures for over 15 years. Ingraham insists that chiding James and Durant for discussing politics had nothing to do with race.